SEN Panels

Alison Hood made this Freedom of Information request to Powys Council

The request was successful.

From: Alison Hood

3 January 2012

Dear Sir/Madam,

Decision-making under the Education Act

I write with the following requests for information under the
Freedom of Information Act. The questions relate to your statutory
powers of decision-making under the Education Act 1996.

1. Who is the statutory decision-maker?

Please confirm who is responsible for exercising statutory
decision-making powers on behalf of your authority under the
Education Act. These powers include, but are not limited to, the
responsibility for agreeing to statutory assessments of SEN and for
making decisions on the issue of, or provision in, a statement.

2. Is information about the decision-maker shared with parents?

i. Please confirm whether the identity of the person/persons
responsible for decision-making under the Education Act is
explicitly communicated to the parents, i.e. are parents told that
a specific person or body will be responsible for making decisions
on behalf of the authority?
ii. If it is, please confirm how this is done.
iii. If it is not done, please explain why.

3. Do you have a SEN Panel?

i. If your local authority utilises a SEN Panel system, please
confirm its role and its place within the statutory SEN system.
ii. Please confirm who sits on the Panel and how they are
appointed.
iii. Please also confirm whether the role of the SEN is
communicated to parents and, if so, how this is done.
iv. If this is not done, please explain why.

4. Is your SEN Panel the statutory decision-maker?

i. Does your SEN Panel make statutory decisions about the provision
in or the issue of a statement?
ii. If it does, is any oversight exercised in relation to the panel
by executive officers of the authority or by elected members?
iii. Please confirm whether parents or parental representatives may
attend meetings which make decisions about their child.
iv. If your SEN Panel has a decision-making role, please confirm
whether information about the identity of those making the
decisions is shared with parents.
v. Please confirm whether SEN Panel meetings are minuted. If they
are minuted, is the decision-making process or just the decision
recorded? Is this information available to parents? If so, how is
it made available, e.g. does it have to be requested under the FOI
Act?
vi. If your SEN Panel exercises statutory powers of decision-making
under the Education Act but does not minute its meetings or record
its decision-making or share these decisions with parents, please
explain why.

7. Duty to explain decisions under the Education Act

i. Irrespective of the identity of the statutory decision-maker,
please confirm how decisions on SEN issues under the Education Act
(for example, about the quality or quantity of provision or
undertaking a statutory assessment) are recorded and whether
decision-making is then shared with parents. This question refers
not to the fact of the decision but the reason for it and relates
to the guidance set out in para 8.32 in respect of decision-making.
ii. Para 8:32 of SEN COP, advises local authorities, in the event
of an evidential dispute about the nature or quantity of provision,
to resolve and give reasons for their conclusions on the choice of
opinions or evidence. How does your authority comply with this
statutory guidance? If it does not, please explain why.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Alison Hood

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From: FOI Queries
Powys Council

3 January 2012

January 3, 2012

 

Person Dealing:   Andrea Hughson

Direct Dial:      01597 827512

 

Dear Ms. Hood,

 

FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT 2000

Reference No: F-2012-00002

 

Thank you for your request for information, received at this office on
January 3, 2012, in which you requested details of Powys County Council’s
statutory powers of decision-making under the Education Act 1996.

 

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject
to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party. In some circumstances Powys County Council may be unable to achieve
this deadline. If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

 

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information you request. If this is the case you will be informed and
the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment
from you. If you choose not to make a payment then your request will
remain unanswered.

 

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

 

The due date for responding to this request for information is January 31,
2012.

 

Should you need to discuss this further please contact the officer dealing
with your request as identified at the beginning of this letter or
Information Management on 01597 827512 / 7513.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in
Powys County Council.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Andrea Hughson

Rheolwr Cofnodion a Chydymffurfiaeth

Records & Compliance Manager

 

_________________________________________

 

Powys County Council

Information Management

Unit 29, Ddole Road Enterprise Park

Llandrindod Wells

Powys

LD1 6DF

01597 827512

 

http://www.powys.gov.uk/index.php?id=46&...

 

 

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From: FOI Queries
Powys Council

31 January 2012

January 31, 2012

 

Person Dealing:   Andrea Hughson

Direct Dial:      01597 827512

 

Dear Ms. Hood,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

Reference No: F-2012-00002

 

Thank you for your request for information dated January 3, 2012
concerning statutory powers of decision-making under the Education Act
1996.

 

This is to inform you that your request has been considered and I can
provide the following response:

 

1.  Who is the statutory decision-maker?

 

Within Powys County Council, decisions in relation to agreeing to
statutory assessments of SEN and making decisions in respect of whether a
statement should be issued and provision within a statement, are taken, on
behalf of the Authority, by the Authority's Additional Learning Needs
(ALN) Moderating Panel. 

 

2.  Is information about the decision-maker shared with the parents?

 

Parents are informed that the decision in relation to statutory
assessment, the issuing of a statement and content of a statement are
taken by the Authority's ALN Moderating Panel.  This information is
communicated to parents in correspondence and, in discussions between
parents and the Authority's School Effectiveness Officers, Working With
Others, who take a lead in respect of matters relating to additional
learning needs, this information is also communicated.  The Authority is
also currently revising its SEN documentation and the revised version,
once published, will include updated details of the ALN Panel together
with its membership.

 

3.  Do you have an SEN Panel?

 

As indicated above, the Authority uses an SEN Panel, named the 'ALN
Moderating Panel', to take decisions, on behalf of the Authority, in
relation to whether a statutory assessment should be undertaken in respect
of a particular case and, if so, whether a draft statement should be
prepared and, once finalised, the content of that statement in respect of
support provision.  The membership of the panel is as follows:-

 

•     Secondary school representative

•     Two primary school head teachers

•     One primary school SENCo

•     One special school representative

•     An educational psychologist

•     School Effectiveness Officers, Working With Others (all four of
these officers are members of the panel)

•     For specific cases, representatives of Children’s' Services, Adult
Services and Powys Teaching Health Board.

 

School representatives are identified by the Catchment Primary
Headteachers Meeting, in respect of primary school representatives, and
Secondary Headteachers Meeting in respect of the secondary school
representative, on an annual basis.  In relation to the Educational
Psychologist, the representative is identified by the Principal
Educational Psychologist who will rotate membership through the
Educational Psychology Team and the School Effectiveness Officers, Working
With Others are members of the panel and will attend as they are able.

 

As indicated above, the role of the ALN Moderating Panel is communicated
to parents, both in writing and through conversations with officers. 

 

4.  Is your SEN Panel the statutory decision-maker?

 

The ALN Moderating Panel is the Authority's decision maker in relation to
matters in respect of provision and the issue of a statement.  It’s
decisions are communicated to the Authority's Senior Management Team, as a
matter of course, and, therefore, are overseen by senior managers.  Senior
managers also attend meetings of the panel, on an occasional basis.

 

The meetings are not open to parents or parental representatives although
written representations, in respect of particular cases, can be submitted
to the panel.  The Authority's four School Effectiveness Officers, Working
With Others, have an area role within the Authority and are the contact
point for both schools and parents in respect of cases that occur within
their geographical areas of the Authority.  It is expected that a School
Effectiveness Officer will have had discussions with the school in
question and, usually with the parent as well, prior to the case being
considered by the ALN Moderating Panel and thus is in a position to convey
information in addition to the papers submitted.

 

The membership of the ALN Moderating Panel is not confidential and details
of the membership are, therefore, available to schools and parents should
they wish to receive them. The representation on the ALN Moderating Panel
will be included in the Authority's revised SEN documentation, once
published.  In the meantime, parents are told of the role of the ALN Panel
and the membership of the panel, in respect of representatives, but,
although it is not confidential, they are not usually advised of the
specific identity of representatives.

 

Meetings of the ALN Moderating Panel are minuted and the minutes comprise
details of the case, the issues discussed, and the decision made.  The
minutes of the meetings are not available to the public but the letter
sent to the parents conveying the decision of the panel includes the
information that is recorded in the minutes.  Effectively, both the parent
and the school receive, by letter, the content of the minutes in respect
of a particular child. 

 

5.  Duty to explain decisions under the Education Act

 

Paragraph 8:32 of the SEN Code of Practice for Wales refers to the content
of Part 2 of statements and states as follows:-

 

Part 2 of a statement should describe all the child's learning
difficulties identified during a statutory assessment.  It should also
include a description of the child's functioning - what the child can and
cannot do.  The description in Part 2 should draw on and may refer to the
professional advice attached in the appendices.  Where the LEA adopt that
advice in their description of the child's learning difficulties, they
should say that they have done so.  But merely stating that they are
adopting the advice in the appendices is not sufficient.  The advice
received may contain conflicting opinions or opinions open to
interpretation, which the LEA must resolve, giving reasons for the
conclusions they have reached.  All advice must be considered and appended
to the statement.  Part 2 should be set out in a fashion which can relate
directly to the description of provision set out in Part 3 (b).

 

The Authority fully complies with this requirement in all statements that
it drafts.

 

I trust we have met your information requirements at this time. We believe
that this request is now complete and shall be closed immediately. Should
any further information be requested regarding this topic, a separate
request will need to be submitted.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in
Powys County Council.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Hughson

Rheolwr Cofnodion a Chydymffurfiaeth

Records & Compliance Manager

 

 

If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received in relation to
your request and wish to make a complaint, please contact Information
Management. Our complaints procedure is available on request or on our
website.

 

If you are still not satisfied following this, you can make an appeal to
the Information Commissioner, who is the statutory regulator. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

 

________________________________________

 

Powys County Council

Information Management

Unit 29, Ddole Road Enterprise Park

Llandrindod Wells

Powys

LD1 6DF

01597 827512

 

http://www.powys.gov.uk/index.php?id=46&...

 

 

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